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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Seven.

Seven days and counting.

Which probably explains the seven hours of practice today.

The price I have to pay?

A new fear for something.

My left index finger.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Save Us From Ourselves.

Sometimes, I really think the Grammys is a whole sham.

I mean sure, yeah, it's the night of honouring artists for their hard work and dedication to their careers. But let's think about this.

How many artists are there in this world?!

And how many of them are signed to a major record label?!

Truth is, there are plenty. And plenty who are deserving of rewards.

Some of you may think what's this guy's motive now? Hasn't he been the one supporting the whole indie/underground scene and scoffing at mainstream artists?

Well, this is not entirely true. I do not scoff at the whole mainstream thing, but the reality behind it is, there have been artists who have been 'destroyed' by the mainstream market.

I'm going to take the nominees for 'Best Metal Performance' as my first example. This year, Slayer won. Again. Out of the five nominees for this award, which were Slayer, As I Lay Dying, Shadows Fall, King Diamond and Machine Head, an average Malaysian would probably have heard of only Slayer, and MAYBE Shadows Fall, who were pretty much unknown until some lucky fella reviewed 'Threads of Life' in The Star, listing the album under 'rock', which is plain stupid.

Slayer have been nominated for two years in a row now, winning both times. When you ask someone what their idea of metal is, bands such as Slipknot, Korn and Metallica would start spilling out of their mouths. Point is, these bands are just a mere type of mainstreamed-generalised type of metal. What the general public don't know is, there are probably other bands worthy of this award. And I state my case, it's dead true.

I'm listening to Slayer's Eyes of the Insane (which won last year) right now and to be honest, this is plain rubbish. There is no substance to it. There is no clear melody. Tom Araya's vocals suck big time. The only highlight is probably the solo. Yet, this is not a song that deserves a Grammy. Bands such as Lamb of God or Mastodon would have easily deserved it more than Araya and co.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't just about metal. I now move on to the awards of 'Best Hard Rock Performance' and 'Best Rock Album'. Winner? Foo Fighters. Now someone please tell me whether they're hard rock. Can't they think of any other bands who deserve these awards just as much as Foo Fighters, if not more?

NO. At most, rock.

Hard rock? NO WAY.

Another band which is so overrated is The White Stripes. They won for 'Best Alternative Music Album' for 'Icky Thump', and Wikipedia states they hold the record for most wins in this category. But think about it, how many thousand alternative bands are there in this world? I was so disappointed that The Arcade Fire or The Shins didn't win for their respective albums. What's the whole fuss about The White Stripes anyway? When they appeared onto the scene several years back, everyone was so excited about the fact that they had been married. SO?

Then there's Amy Winehouse. She won five out of six nominations this year. What for? Out of sympathy after going into rehab? And another HUGE sham is when I found out one of the awards she won was for 'Best New Artist.'

Amy Winehouse has been around for FIVE years now. Yes. FIVE. FIVE.

FIVE!!

I mean if you gave the award to someone like say, Blake Lewis or Jordin Sparxx (regardless of whether they deserved it), it would mean something at least.

So how can one consider Amy to be a new artist? Well, that's probably because she only recently became known with 'Back to Black', which won 'Best Pop Vocal Album'. Strange thing is, Back to Black was released in 2006, and it just won the award in 2008. I'm just glad jazzman Herbie Hancock won the 'Album of the Year' award, instead of Amy's 'Black to Black.' Just proves the fact that the people at the top just wouldn't move out of their comfort zone to look for pop albums which were released in 2007. Besides, she's not even pop to begin with.

Still regarding this award, the artist Feist was also nominated. I personally hadn't heard of her only until last year, so I researched and found out she's been active as an artist since 1991. Good God.

Just don't get me started on Ledisi and Paramore, who were also nominees.
Going back to the award of 'Best Metal Performance'. I was just reading Michael Cheang's report in The Star about his experience in LA watching and meeting stars during that night, and I stumbled upon this line where he refers to Tom Araya of Slayer:

... and that even the most hardcore rock gods can have sweet little families.

WHAT THE FUCK IS HIS NOTION?!

Is he trying to imply that metal/hardcore artists have to be all evil and unpleasant just because of a selected few who really are? That is totally not true.

In this world, there is such a genre called black metal. And sadly, I have the impression that people associate 'metal' with 'black metal' a lot and saying things like it's evil and all that.

In actual fact, metal has so many different sub-genres. I admit black metal is mostly evil, and the lyrics of black metal bands tend to touch on satanism, anti-Christ themes, morbidity and what not. Take Dimmu Borgir's Satan My Master as a great example:

Satan My Master
I slit my wrists to drain me of my blood
Satan My Master
Up side down I turn the cross of God

WOAH evil, eh? Well yes, I totally agree. I'm not a Christian, but I am definitely against what people like Dimmu Borgir believe.

So, is all metal all evil?

Think again, after taking a look at lyrics from metalcore band All That Remains' The Air That I Breathe:


I have suffered defeat, pain, loss
Still I push to the edge, never falter
For this cement my beliefs
I'll will not choke on failure

There's the proof. There are bands which write lyrics based on positivity, such as the example above, relationships and even ANIMAL LIBERATION!

Wow, I really did get carried away. From the Grammys to metal music.

At the end of the day though, it all boils down to awareness. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States should really be helping the situation, instead of sitting on their fat arses and just giving awards to artists who have either won before or only who they are familiar with.

This is my indictment. Sue me, will you?

Monday, February 18, 2008

This Is A Call To the Faithful.

I begin to feel it now.

AS THE TENSION MOUNTS.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Watch Your Tails, Gunners.

MANCHESTER UNITED 4-0 ARSENAL.

'Nuff said.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Take This Heart and Let It Die Slow.

It's a normal day. Traffic's clear. Nothing spectacular about today.

So your dad/mum/driver/friend or whoever is driving while you are the passenger.

Traffic light. It's red. Your car is first in line. The driver just has a momentary lapse in concentration.

It's green. The driver doesn't realise it's green probably because he/she is still spaced out or in the case of mums, looking at themselves in the mirror to check their lipstick.

PON! A car from behind honks.

DRIVER: Geez man. Impatient betul (or something along those lines).

Now think about this. In the original scenario, your car is first in line at the lights. If your car happens to be second/third in line and the car in front doesn't realise the lights have turned green, don't you think you would do the same thing?

So what's up with drivers (parents in particular) who assume drivers behind who honk are impatient when they themselves do that when they are in the situation stated?

***
Another case study goes like this.

Those who are from HELP will know what I'm talking about.

From the main road going towards KL, there is a left turning into Wisma HELP which Wisma UOA overlooks. On most mornings, it's pretty jammed. Since there's only one lane for turning in, cars virtually line up to turn in. Sometimes, there are shuttle buses which go to and from Main Block which make things even slower.

So imagine this. The driver is approaching this turn in. Whether or not you are late for your class, the driver is bound to go all the way to the turning itself, cut in to the lane, and beat tens of cars to it.

Dirty Malaysians.

But think about it, if your car was the one 'lining up' in the queue to turn in, and suddenly this car passes you on the right, goes all the way up to the turning, would you feel pissed?

DRIVER: Stupid la all these people. Cutting in, cutting in.

BLEARGH.

Okay. I don't really know where this is going.

Omg. Some random Daniel Tan spent RM 54,000 on his marriage proposal. Tsk.

The waterfall of money.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Race.

Obama.
Hillary.

Obama.
Hillary.

Black man.
White woman.

Black man.
White woman.

Significance?

Michael Jackson wakes up every morning with these two choices.

x)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Man Devouring Man.

RATSSS.

Chinese New Year is the time of year I don't usually look forward to.

I hardly get any ang pau.
My family and I hardly go back to Ipoh or Penang.
Reunion dinner is usually with only a few relatives.

This year was a little different though.

On the eve night, we had reunion dinner at my uncle's in Taman Tun. Instead of just seeing a few familiar faces, there were about 10 or so other relatives who turned up. We had a home cooked FEAST, which is uncommon, since we usually go to restaurants.

Yee sang from Mandarin Oriental, Johorean roast duck, seafood hot pot, sweet and sour prawns. These were the amongst the dishes we had. The atmosphere was really great too, probably because we were all toasting to several individuals (relatives) who had recently succeeded in their own thing. First doctor in the family, high scorer for IB, double-major graduate, NUS-hopeful (haha).

Because we had reunion dinner at a home and the maid obviously wouldn't have been able to wash up all the dishes, the four 'kids' did the washing up. Me, my sis, and my two cousins were the 'slaves' for the night. The good thing was it barely felt like chores, as the spirit of working together got us through.

Now, I was wrong. Initially I was unsure whether gambling would actually take place. Nevertheless, I had brought my cards anyway, and so once all the dishes had been washed by us 'slaves', we got it on. Sadly though, there were only about six of us gambling. Plus, the bets were small, so I felt obliged to follow as well. Eventually, I only lost a few bucks. POTONG.

After countless rounds of Blackjack, we decided to stop and move on to another game involving different kind of cards, Billionaire. It's really fun and my cousins and I have been playing it since young. We traded and traded cards and the second I won the game, the clock struck 12 and all my relatives were on their feet wishing each other "Happy New Year". Officially. A sign of great things, perhaps? xD

The next day (or rather, hours later), we went to my grand uncle's place in Damansara Heights and chatted with some other relatives. I woke up so late that I didn't have time to eat anything before going to the house, so I ended up filling myself with the usual cookies there.

After visiting, just my family and I had a vegetarian lunch in Section 17 which was practically like a ghost town. Just proves the point that KL is a great place to be in during CNY.

We went over to my uncle's place from the night before and picked up my two cousins and we headed to Pavilion. We were expecting the roads to be super clear and they were, up to a point when we reached KL. Then, suddenly my cousin needed to do his business. BIG business.

It was so funny, cause we had to stop at DBKL which was the nearest building. My cousin had told me the building was like a 5-star hotel (tsk tsk, we citizens are the ones providing the funds), so I wanted to go down and check it out.

Upon getting out of the car, we were 'greeted' when these two fellas walked out of the building and kind of like shouted at us in a really uncivilized manner asking us where we wanted to go, as if we were like a bunch of robbers or something.

Pissed, we walked in and started looking for the toilet. Then there were these officers or whatever at the main counter who were apparently 'doing work' who also asked us where we were going. And later, when my sis and I were just waiting outside the toilet for our cousins, a woman just walked by and said, "nak masuk, masuk sama sekali la!" *cackles*. Biatch.

Well, our excursion to DBKL turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as we ended up taking a different route to Pavilion, minus the jam. Once we got there, my mum started lining up for J. Co while we went towards the shops.

The rest of the time there was spent shopping for a bag for my cousin, rushing to GSC and hoping to get tickets to Sweeney Todd but giving up, listening to the live band play a mixture of CNY as well as modern tunes and eating J. Co donuts by the side. By then it was only about 6 something, so we all decided to have a drink at Coffee Bean.

We were just chilling when suddenly someone suggested we play the game Charades. Since the shop was kind of empty, the rest of us didn't mind. The game was fun, and after rounds and rounds of acting out sentences such as "He died from myocardial infarction", "The social deconstruction of Sweeney Todd" among others, we managed to work up an appetite for dinner.

There was a place we had been eyeing since arriving at Pavilion, and it was called Pastamania, with the tagline "Quick Casual Dining". Little did we know it was self-service until we actually walked in. Nonetheless though, the prices were super reasonable and came in fair portions.

Today I finally watched Sweeney Todd.



It was dark.
It was gory.
It was awesome.

Johnny Depp played the demon barber really convincingly, in my opinion. What really caught my ears was the music as a whole, though. Steven Sondheim is a true genius. Especially the opening orchestration was just amazing.

Sure, the quality of the singing was no where near the staged musical, but what would you expect from actors who aren't trained singers?

Imagine eating a pie after watching the movie. Ha-ha.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Restless.

It nearly rained on New Year's eve. But the heavens cleared up the sky again.

DAMN THERE WAS A MEET AND GREET AFTER THE CONCERT ON SATURDAY! AGHHHHHHH!

Happy Year of the Rat to all.

I just hope my relatives will actually want to gamble tonight. Chances are, not.

Bounce.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Like Today Never Happened Before.

DAMN, that was awesome.

Right from the moment the guitarists belted out the opening riff of Meant to Live, it was definitely gonna be a night to remember.

Switchfoot was simply amazing. And mind you that is an understatement. Sure, they don't have killer solos in their songs, and maybe Jon nor Drew nor Jerome have the amazing guitar ability of Matt Bellamy of Muse who made the crowd wild last year, but yet there was just something about the interaction with the crowd that made their first visit to our country oh so memorable.

Last night's concert wasn't just about them, though. Despite the fact that the San Diego quintet stole the show, true local music fans will also be very proud of the two homegrown bands that opened for Switchfoot. Lovemebutch, with superb guitarist Wing Meng (the brainchild behind Crossborders at Laundry Bar as well as the organizer of last night's event) played their hearts out first off. Then came Christian rock band Altered Frequency who got the crowd going with their mainstream choruses and hooks that got the temperature rising.

Oh, the vocalist of Altered Frequency was really lame too.

AF VOCALIST: Yeah! You guys are a great crowd man! Feels just like home! (seconds later) Oh yeah, this is home.

Another instant was when he TRIED to make his "signature" joke.

AF VOCALIST: What's the difference between falling from the 88th floor or the twin towers and falling from the first floor?

No response.

AF VOCALIST: When you fall from the 88th floor, you go AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA *plop*. But when you fall from the first floor, it goes *plop*, then AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

HOKAY, NICEEEEE.

AF VOCALIST: (preaching) ... no to drugs! ... and stuff like that la.

Anyway, the point that local bands were actually given the opportunity to perform was really great. Sadly, hardly anyone was really giving support to them. I mean, I even saw people just staring into space, some were actually texting while the bands were playing and all that. And when Altered Frequency's vocalist asked the crowd, "How many of you are local rock music fans?!" everyone went ballistic.

YEAH RIGHT.

Back to the main event. There was once when lead vocalist Jon actually came down from the stage and held the hands of those in the crowd. Too bad I wasn't near enough. Strange thing was when he was looking into the crowd, he looked as if he was like high on drugs or something. Obviously that isn't possible, but he looked like he was in a trance or he'd just woken up or something.

What I found really inventive about the band's performance was the way they seemed to link every song to one another, such that the effect of one whole song playing throughout the one and a three quarter hours they played was created. Be it a simple guitar riff, or mysterious effects on the keyboards, the music was just interconnected brilliantly.

Halfway through American Dream, one of my personal favs, something so surreal happened. All five members stopped moving all at once and froze. The lights stopped as well, and it created this super cool effect as if they had suddenly turned to stone, with a chord ringing through the big ass speakers. I can still remember it now, Jon was kind of like squatting, Jerome was like holding a tambourine up in the air, Tim was turned to the side, Drew was I don't know doing what (haha!) and Chad had one drumstick in the air as well. They actually froze for like a minute or longer, so naturally there was enough time to observe each and every member and the pose they were in (except Drew, laughs).

There were just so many things that mostly Jon did throughout the night. There was an instance when he told everyone to take photos with their cameras at the same time and there were just so many lights flashing. Pure coolness.

Well, at the end of it all, it seems like a blur to me now. I certainly paid the price after all that excitement. I've got this funny feeling at the throat area, like as if I damaged my vocal chords or something (choi!) but I feel all that shouting and screaming and singing along was still worth it.

Come on, One Armed Productions. If you guys are able to bring in more international acts such as Switchfoot in the near future, then by all means do so.

I'll be right here standing by.

Friday, February 1, 2008

You Are The Forsaken.

IMAGINE THIS.

You're in your living room and you glance elsewhere, let's say at a different room, where one of or both your parents are sitting doing their own thing.

Don't you just wonder to yourself sometimes that those two human beings could look different and have different names?

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say anything about my own parents. And besides, this is not my point.

It's just reality. It's just what happens to us. It's how we are now and how we will be.

SWITCHFOOT LIVE TOMORROW!!